Sunday, February 3

Janji Ditepati In Kuching

Over the long weekend last week, I took my straight A PMR students all the way from the lush rainforests of Katibas to the asphalt kingdom of Kuching. We spent the long weekend sightseeing, dining & meeting people.
Last year, I promised that every straight A student would receive a fully sponsored trip to Kuching. And, as an infamous ladies man would say... Janji Ditepati.

Over that same weekend, a few people surprised me with their questions. They said some pretty harsh things about the people group my students came from. I had the impression that they were severely looked down upon by some wealthier city folks.
There were also people who could not understand that there was nothing in it for me. They kept looking at what I was doing in many twisted angles trying to figure out how I would benefit.

Honestly, I do not treat my students for who they are. I treat them for who I know they can be.
I do not give in order to gain from them. I give so that they may, in turn, give to others.
I live a full life. I have many great friends who believe in what I do. I have a healthy body & I exercise regularly. I live beneath my means & can afford many luxuries.
I don't need anything from my students. In fact, I am in a great position to give for I give out of abundance. Some people have way more than me but they clench it in their bulging bellies & airtight fists whilst thinking others are the same.

Many of my students come from poverty or broken families getting by with around RM500 a month. That is an unimaginable sum for many of you reading this now. Many have never set foot in Kuching. Many have never even been out of the jungle.
This lack of exposure to the outside world has caused many of them to be limited mentally or have their thoughts narrowed by their environment.

As a result, you will find that in a rural setting like this, young girls get married off by their parents at the first suitor, quit school & become housewives. Also, the smarter girls who could have had a better life, instead have dangerous boyfriends, have sex, get pregnant & leave school in shame. I have seen this all too often. Some of my ex-students are already divorced with kids before 20.

I want so desperately to show them that there is more to life & that there is a whole wide world out there for them to explore & thrive in. But persuasive words alone can only go so far. Also, it is not possible for me to bring all of them on trips into the world. Fortunately, I have just enough resources to do it for the few of them with the potential to make the best of it.

Anyway, enough of my philosophical nonsense. Time for some sharing & pictures!

We took 3 boats to Kuching & 3 boats back. Departing at 7am & arriving at 4.30pm.
I put them up at Beds Guesthouse which is owned & run by a friend of mine.
I wanted to expose my students to the foreign travellers there.
THE Kuching icon.
You haven't been to Kuching if you haven't had a picture with this cat.
We visited the Sarawak Museum. The oldest museum in Borneo.
Took a boat ride across the river to see Fort Margherita & the new State Assembly building.
We visited the legendary Mount Santubong.
The Sarawak Cultural Village is a must.
I wanted them to be proud of their culture & never forget their roots.
I treated them to Kolo Mee, Laksa, Kueh Chap, Belacan Bee Hoon, Cha Kueh, Rojak, Ice Kacang,
lunch at Bing! & dinner at Basaga.
I also arranged for people who have lived exemplary lives to join us for a few of our meals.
First time at a beach. Cute. =)
How can I be sure that the kids I took on this trip will be any different? I don't.
I can lead a horse to water but I cannot make it drink. I shared with them my ideals & leave the rest up to them.
And that's the beauty of it, for whatever they choose for themselves will be even more meaningful than something I have imposed on them. What matters is I saw a need & I did my little bit of good. If more people in the world did the same, we'd be living in an utopia.

All in all, I've spent less than half a month's salary on this trip for 4, but I believe it has made a lifetime of significance.
It's worth every cent because of the invaluable experiences my 3 students have had & the inspiration their stories will be to others. Let's hope that it sparks the beginning of an intellectual revolution deep in the wilderness.

Check out all the pictures here on my FB Page.

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